Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Gut Bacteria Supplements Might Boost Obese People’s Health

Gut Bacteria Supplements Might Boost Obese People’s Health

 

Supplements of a type of gut bacteria may benefit people at heightened risk of diabetes and heart disease, a preliminary study suggests.

Researchers found that the supplements, containing bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila, appear safe and potentially effective.

Over three months, volunteers who used a pasteurized version of the supplement lost an average of 5 pounds. Meanwhile, their cholesterol levels dipped and the progression of their “pre-diabetes” slowed.

The study was small, and designed as a “proof-of-principle” — aimed at showing the bacteria can be packaged into a supplement and taken safely.

The researchers said the initial results were promising.

“The aim is now to design a larger study,” said senior researcher Patrice Cani, a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Brussels, Belgium.

Researchers have known for years that Akkermansia is less abundant in the guts of people who are obese or have type 2 diabetes.

“But that was just a simple correlation,” Cani said. So several years ago, his team started to look deeper. First, they found that in lab mice, Akkermansia — given as live bacteria — helped prevent weight gain from a high-fat diet.

The reason, Cani explained, seemed to be that the bacteria were “reinforcing the gut barrier.” That led to less leaking of substances into the blood — which allowed the body to better control blood sugar, and use sugar and fat more efficiently.

Later experiments showed that pasteurizing the bacteria boosted the benefits of live Akkermansia.

But until now, no one had tried giving the bacteria to people.

The study was published online July 1 in Nature Medicine. It’s the latest to delve into the gut “microbiome” — the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that populate the digestive tract.

Research has been revealing that those microbes may have wide-ranging effects on our health — from metabolism to immune defenses to brain function. The makeup of the gut microbiome has been linked to the risks of conditions as diverse as obesity, autoimmune diseases and depression.

The new findings are encouraging, according to researchers not involved in the work.

“The important conclusion is, this type of supplement is safe and feasible,” said Ken Cadwell, an associate professor of microbiology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “It also shows that a larger, longer study is worth doing, and I’m excited to see that happen.”

Dr. Elena Barengolts is an endocrinologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She agreed with Cadwell. “This is top-notch research,” she said.

She and Cadwell noted that the supplement is pasteurized, which can improve safety.

And unlike live bacteria, Cadwell said, pasteurized bugs do not actually “colonize” the gut. In fact, the researchers found no change in volunteers’ overall microbiome composition.

“The reason this might be good is that you don’t have unintended consequences of changing the microbiome,” Cadwell explained. “It also means you can stop the treatment if you don’t think it’s working, and not have to worry about a permanent change to the microbiome.”

The study involved 32 volunteers who were overweight or obese and had metabolic syndrome. That’s a collection of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease — including elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, and unhealthy amounts of belly fat.

The participants also had insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes where the body gradually loses its sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar.

Twelve study participants were randomly assigned to take the pasteurized Akkermansia supplement; nine were given live bacteria; and 11 took a placebo (inactive) supplement.

After three months, people on the pasteurized supplement had lost 5 pounds, on average. Their insulin sensitivity improved by 30% in relation to the placebo group, whose sensitivity worsened. And their total cholesterol dipped by about 9% versus the placebo group, the findings showed.

To Barengolts, the weight loss — while small — is an important finding. Many people struggle with shedding extra pounds, she noted, and this was done without diet changes.

That said, no supplement can replace a healthy diet and exercise, Barengolts stressed.

Cani agreed, noting that any Akkermansia supplement would be an addition to lifestyle changes and standard medications.

Cani and a co-researcher have founded a company, A-Mansia Biotech, that is developing an Akkermansia food supplement to bring to the market.

Remember we are in this together!
Reviewed by P Carrothers
Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Diabetes Drugs and Flesh Eating Infection

Newer Diabetes Drugs Linked to ‘Flesh-Eating’ Genital Infection

News Picture: Newer Diabetes Drugs Linked to 'Flesh-Eating' Genital Infection

 

Say you have type 2 diabetes and you are taking a newer class of medications to treat your disease — but one day you notice pain, redness and a foul odor in your genital area.

If this happens, new research suggests you need to see your doctor immediately, because you may be suffering from Fournier gangrene. Also known as a “flesh-eating” disease, this infection attacks your genital or anal region and can quickly kill tissue as it spreads rapidly.

Unfortunately, it has become a rare but still possible safety concern for people taking diabetes medications known as SGLT2 inhibitors, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists.

SGLT2 inhibitors are a newer class of diabetes medications, introduced in 2013. Drugs in this class include canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga) and empagliflozin (Jardiance).

Fournier gangrene occurred in 55 people taking these drugs between March 2013 and January 2019. For comparison, the researchers looked for cases of Fournier gangrene in people taking other diabetes medications from 1984 to 2019. They found only 19 such cases.

Still, the risk for Fournier gangrene remains very low, the researchers stressed.

“In 2017, an estimated 1.7 million patients received a dispensed prescription for an SGLT2 inhibitor,” said study author Dr. Susan Bersoff-Matcha, a medical officer in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. So, “Fournier gangrene is a rare event,” she said. “While our study shows an association between treatment with SGLT2 inhibitors and Fournier gangrene, we don’t know exactly what the risk is, or if Fournier gangrene can be predicted.”

Broad-spectrum antibiotics and surgery to remove the dead tissue are treatment options, the researchers said.

SGLT2 inhibitors work in the kidneys, allowing excess blood sugar to be removed in the urine, they said.

In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, the drugs may also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in some people with type 2 diabetes.

But possible side effects include urinary tract infections and genital infections, such as yeast infections. Kidney problems can also be a concern with this class of medications.

All of the patients with Fournier gangrene identified in this study needed to be hospitalized. Some had several surgeries. Three of the 55 people died from Fournier gangrene.

The average age of the people with Fournier gangrene was 56. Thirty-nine were men. Forty-one cases occurred in the United States. Thirty-one of the 55 cases identified were also taking an additional diabetes medication.

Of those with Fournier gangrene, 21 were using canagliflozin, 16 were using dapagliflozin and 18 were taking empagliflozin, the study said.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said that while the study was well-done, it cannot prove a cause-and-effect link between the drugs and the disease.

“Infections of the pubic and rectal area are quite common in people with diabetes, they don’t have Fournier’s. Fournier’s is a very aggressive, but extremely rare, disease,” said Zonszein, who wasn’t involved with the study.

When Fournier gangrene does occur, it’s hard to know if it is caused by a medication. He pointed out that a number of clinical trials have been done on SGLT2 inhibitors that have included tens of thousands of people, and there haven’t been any reports of Fournier gangrene.

“I counsel my patients about infections in the genitalia. The main concern is to be aware that they can occur. And, providers need to be more aware of Fournier’s. They have to immediately try to establish the cause of infection and aggressively treat it if they suspect Fournier gangrene,” Zonszein said.

He said a far bigger concern is uncontrolled diabetes and the risk of complications when blood sugar levels aren’t controlled. “The benefits of these medications outweigh the risks,” he said.

In a statement, Boehringer Ingelheim, the company that makes Jardiance (empagliflozin), said the company actively monitors for side effects related to their medications.

“We remain confident in the positive benefit-risk profile of empagliflozin, and empagliflozin-containing products, as outlined in the prescribing information,” the statement from Boehringer Ingelheim said.

The prescribing information of all SGLT2’s was recently changed to reflect the possible risk of Fournier gangrene, as directed by the FDA.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, maker of Invokana (canagliflozin), and AstraZeneca, maker of Farxiga (dapagliflozin), did not respond to requests for comment.

 

 

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Dr Gemma Carney
Annals of Internal Medician

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Uncategorized

Do You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

magnesiumflower

Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral in the body. According to a pioneering American neurosurgeon, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.”

 

Magnesium is critical for cellular health and for more than 300 biochemical functions in the body. But get this: A common blood test often misses low levels. Here we discuss the main signs that you’re magnesium deficient — and how to reverse it.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Once thought to be relatively rare, magnesium deficiency is more common than most physicians believe. Here’s why:

 

Soil depletion, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the chemicals in our food have created a recipe for disaster. As minerals are removed, stripped away, or no longer available in the soil, the percentage of magnesium present in food has decreased.

Digestive diseases, like leaky gut, can cause malabsorption of minerals, including magnesium. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people who aren’t absorbing their nutrients. Also, as we age, our mineral absorption tends to decrease, so the probability of having a deficiency increases across the board.

Chronic disease and medication use is at an all-time high. Most chronic illness is associated with magnesium deficiency and lack of mineral absorption. Medications damage the gut which is responsible for absorbing magnesium from our food.

Should you worry about magnesium deficiency?

Should you worry about magnesium deficiency?

It all depends on your risk factors and presenting symptoms.  Also, approximately 80 percent of people have low levels of magnesium, so the chances are that you are probably deficient.

Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral in the body.

According to Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer in pain medicine, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency and it’s the missing cure to many diseases.” Not only does Magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but magnesium is essential for cellular health and is a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body.

Even glutathione, your body’s most powerful antioxidant that has even been called “the master antioxidant,” requires magnesium for its synthesis. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of this, and millions suffer daily from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it.

 

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency

Once thought to be relatively rare, magnesium deficiency is more common than most physicians believe. Here’s why:

 

Soil depletion, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the chemicals in our food have created a recipe for disaster. As minerals are removed, stripped away, or no longer available in the soil, the percentage of magnesium present in food has decreased.

Digestive diseases, like leaky gut, can cause malabsorption of minerals, including magnesium. Today, there are hundreds of millions of people who aren’t absorbing their nutrients. Also, as we age, our mineral absorption tends to decrease, so the probability of having a deficiency increases across the board.

Chronic disease and medication use is at an all-time high. Most chronic illness is associated with magnesium deficiency and lack of mineral absorption. Medications damage the gut which is responsible for absorbing magnesium from our food.

Should you worry about magnesium deficiency?

 

It all depends on your risk factors and presenting symptoms (see below). Also, approximately 80 percent of people have low levels of magnesium, so the chances are that you are probably deficient.

 

Take note: Only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is in your bloodstream, so often you can have a deficiency, and it would not even be discovered by a common blood test.

 

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

 

Many people may be magnesium deficient and not even know it. But here are some key symptoms to look out for that could indicate if you are deficient:

  1. Leg Cramps

Seventy percent of adults and 7 percent of children experience leg cramps on a regular basis. But leg cramps can more than a nuisance — they can also be downright excruciating! Because of magnesium’s role in neuromuscular signals and muscle contraction, researchers have observed that magnesium deficiency is often to blame. (1, 2)

More and more health care professionals are prescribing magnesium supplements to help their patients. Restless leg syndrome is another warning sign of a magnesium deficiency. To overcome both leg cramps and restless leg syndrome, you will want to increase your intake of both magnesium and potassium.

 

  1. Insomnia

Magnesium deficiency is often a precursor to sleep disorders such as anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness. It’s been suggested that this is because magnesium is vital for GABA function, an inhibitory neurotransmitter known to “calm” the brain and promote relaxation.

Taking magnesium before bed or with dinner is the best time of day to take the supplement. Also, adding in magnesium-rich foods during dinner — like nutrition-packed spinach — may help.

 

  1. Muscle Pain / Fibromyalgia

A study published in Magnesium Research examined the role magnesium plays in fibromyalgia symptoms, and it uncovered that increasing magnesium consumption reduced pain and tenderness and also improved immune blood markers. (3)

Oftentimes linked to autoimmune disorders, this research should encourage fibromyalgia patients because it highlights the systemic effects that magnesium supplements have on the body.

  1. Anxiety

As magnesium deficiency can affect the central nervous system, more specifically the GABA cycle in the body, its side effects can include irritability and nervousness. As the deficiency worsens, it causes high levels of anxiety and, in severe cases, depression and hallucinations.

Magnesium is needed for every cell function from the gut to the brain, so it’s no wonder that it affects so many systems.

  1. High Blood Pressure

Magnesium works partnered with calcium to support proper blood pressure and protect the heart.  So when you are magnesium deficient, often you are also low in calcium and tend towards hypertension or high blood pressure.

A study with 241,378 participants published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition uncovered that a diet high in magnesium foods could reduce the risk of a stroke by 8 percent. (4) This is profound considering that hypertension causes 50 percent of ischemic strokes in the world.

  1. Type II Diabetes

One of the four main causes of magnesium deficiency is type II diabetes, but it’s also a common symptom. U.K. researchers, for example, uncovered that of the 1,452 adults they examined low, magnesium levels were 10 times more common with new diabetics and 8.6 times more common with known diabetics. (5)

 

As expected from this data, diets rich in magnesium has been shown to significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes because of magnesium’s role in sugar metabolism. Another study discovered that the simple addition of magnesium supplementation lowered the risk of diabetes by 15 percent! (6)

  1. Fatigue

Low energy, weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Most chronic fatigue syndrome patients are also magnesium deficient. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that magnesium every day can help, but you do also want to be careful, as too much magnesium can also cause diarrhea. (7)

  1. Migraine Headaches

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to migraine headaches due to its importance in balancing neurotransmitters in the body. Double-blind placebo-controlled studies have proven that magnesium daily reduced the frequency of migraine headaches by up to 42 percent. (8)

  1. Osteoporosis

The National Institute of Health reports that, “The average person’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and about half of that is in the bones.” (9) This is important to realize, especially for the elderly, who are at risk of bone weakening.

Thankfully, there’s hope! A study published in Biology Trace Element Research uncovered that supplementing with magnesium slowed the development of osteoporosis “significantly” after just 30 days. (10)

 

Are You at Risk? 

 

So, who is most susceptible to a magnesium deficiency? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), not every one is created equal in regards to metabolizing and assimilating magnesium. In fact, certain people are inherently at a greater risk of developing a magnesium deficiency.

 

Magnesium deficiency can be inherited genetically as an inability to absorb this important mineral. Also, a diet low in high magnesium foods, or even emotional or work stress can drain magnesium from the body. Whether inherited, through a deficient diet, or even stress, a magnesium deficiency can lead to side effects of migraines, diabetes, fatigue and more.

 

Which one, How much, And what do I take with it?

 

These are all questions we will be happy to help you with.  We are not all wired the same way, and the same dose not work the same on everyone.  You need personalized healthcare plan just for you.  Call us for help in this matter, and we will work with you to get this right.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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312-972-WELL

 

Health and Disease, Lifestyle

Less Sleep, Faster Brain Aging

lesssleep

Less Sleep, Faster Brain Aging

This troubling finding comes from a Singapore-based study showing that losing sleep with advancing age elicits changes in a region of the brain that is a marker for faster cognitive decline. The 66 Chinese seniors who participated had MRIs to measure their brain volume in conjunction with an evaluation of their cognitive function every two years. They also reported how many hours they typically slept. The researchers, from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, reported that study participants who slept fewer hours showed evidence of brain ventricle enlargement and declines in cognitive performance. This study was the first to look at the effect of sleep on brain ventricle enlargement, a known sign of cognitive decline. The investigators cited research elsewhere as showing that seven hours of sleep is associated with the best cognitive test scores in more than 150,000 adults, but noted that it is not yet known whether seven hours is optimum for overall physiology and long term brain health.

My take? This study adds a serious risk to the list of dangers posed by sleep deprivation throughout life. We know that lack of sleep increases the risk of accidents caused by fatigue and that not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for weight gain, perhaps by disrupting production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the body’s regulation of blood sugar, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. And laboratory studies suggest that not getting adequate rest may also elevate levels of stress hormones, boost blood pressure, and increase inflammation – all changes that may lead or contribute to health concerns later in life. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the sooner you establish new habits, the better for the long-term health of your mind and body. Here are my recommendations for getting optimal sleep.

Want To Age Gracefully? It’s not about the lines on the face – it’s about the wisdom behind them. Don’t lament the passing of the years, celebrate all you have achieved, learned and earned, for your benefit and the benefit of others. Sources: June C. Lo et al, “Sleep Duration and Age-Related Changes in Brain Structure and Cognitive Performance.” SLEEP, 2014; DOI: 10.5665/sleep.3832